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Weekly photo contest: Holidays

Happy holidays! This is the time of year when holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years and others occur at the same time (more or less). So that's probably why we're going to make 'holidays' as our theme for the weekly photo contest. Head out and capture something festive!

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Zubie wants to make your driving safer and easier

Do you often find yourself wondering if a loved one made it to their destination safely? Well, a new Windows Phone app called Zubie is setting out to address those concerns and make your trips a little safer and easier in the process. The app allows you to easily set alerts for when family members arrive at their destination. Furthermore, when paired with a Zubie Key, which plugs into your car's dash, you can track everything from your car's health to your teen's driving habits.

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Yesterday, we took a look at Fitbit and their new Charge wearable activity tracker. Today, version 1.5 of the Windows Phone app, which I demoed in that video, is live in the Store for everyone.

Today's update is more than just 'bug fixes' and delivers quite a few new features and improvements. The update just went live, and we have the full changelog, so let's take a look.

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We are continuing on with our 12 Days of Hidden Gems series this week, focusing on the emerging world of IoT (the Internet of Things). We spent the first few days looking at fitness accessories that work well with Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, but today we're shifting gears and delving into the connected home. You can catch up on the articles to date on our Hidden Gems page.

Today is day 4, and we are featuring the SmartThings home automation system — it works with a central app, an array of wireless sensors, and your smartphone to make your home connected, safer, and smarter.

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Things may have been off to a rocky start when the NFL started using Surface tablets earlier this year, but today brought a pretty cool little story about how the tablets have helped out Washington's own Seattle Seahawks. In an interview with Washington's King 5 News, quarterback Russell Wilson said that the ability to instantly review plays on the tablet has helped the team win.

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Microsoft is celebrating the holidays in grand fashion with price cuts on a ton of its computers and tablets. Among them is the Dell XPS 15 15-8947sLV Signature Edition Laptop. This light, yet loaded, powerhouse normally retails for $1899.00 at Microsoft Stores, but can be had for only $1499.00 during the sale.

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Grand Theft Auto Online has a ton of free holiday content available for all Xbox One owners. Most of the new items, including new cars and weapons, are available permanently, while some of the more festive things, like snowfall in San Andreas and holiday masks, are only around until January 5. On top of the new items, Rockstar is also kicking off a #FestiveSurprise holiday photo contest with a big $1 million prize in in-game cash.

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The Microsoft Portable Power DC-21 smartphone battery charger, which was first announced in October, is finally on sale on the Microsoft Store website for $49.

The 6000mAh battery can charge a smartphone — such as a Lumia Windows Phone device — two times before the charger itself needs to be plugged in again. It can also hold its charge for up to a month if needed, and can be plugged in and charged while also charging a smartphone.

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In a surprise announcement, LINE messenger has picked up MixRadio from Microsoft. LINE is one of the biggest messaging services around, although it is mostly prevalent in non-Western countries at the moment.

Microsoft announced the news on the Lumia Conversations blog. The deal is expected to be completed by "early 2015" with the MixRadio team staying in Bristol, UK.

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